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Introduction to the Study of Language - 1st year

A survey of the nature of language, concerning its structure (phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics), its function (use in human life), its acquisition (learning and teaching), and its relationship with culture and society.


By the end of the semester, students will be able to:

1. Identify and examine their linguistic beliefs and attitudes;

2. Recognize both the diversity of language systems and their basic similarities;

3. Demonstrate familiarity with the subfields of linguistics (including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics);

4. Demonstrate familiarity with hyphenated (interdisciplinary) linguistic areas (psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, neurolinguistics, historical linguistics, anthropological linguistics, applied linguistics);

5. Apply tools and techniques for linguistic analysis and recognize the organizing principles of language by examining these analyses.


Course topics will include the following:

1. The fundamental ideas about language

2. Animal communication and human language

3. The sounds of language: the production and classification of speech sounds

4. The description of the system and pattern of speech sounds

5. Word-formation and morphology: derivational vs. inflectional

6. Generative grammar: deep and surface structures

7. Semantics: semantic features and roles, lexical relations

8. First language acquisition: developmental stages

9. Second language acquisition; contributing factors to interlanguage

10. Language varieties: dialects; pidgins and Creoles

11. Language, society and culture; social dialects; age and gender

Method of Instruction:

1. Lecture

2. Class discussion

3. Problem solving

4. Linguistic analysis

Types of Assignments:

1. Quizzes

2. Exams

3. Oral presentation

4. Textbook exercises

Sample Text:

1. Textbook: The Study of Language, 2nd ed., George Yule (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

2. Language Files, 8th ed., eds. Thomas Stewart and Nathan Vaillette (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2001).